The Flush Times of Alabama and Mississippi: A Series of Sketches

The Flush Times of Alabama and Mississippi: A Series of Sketches

The Flush Times of Alabama and Mississippi: A Series of Sketches

The Flush Times of Alabama and Mississippi: A Series of Sketches

Excerpt

In 1836 Joseph Glover Baldwin (1815-64) stuffed his few belongings in his saddlebags and set our on horseback from his home near Winchester, Virginia, to make a career for himuself as a lawyer in the Old South West, having been attracted to that part of the frontier by accounts of "most cheering and exhilarating prospects of fussing, quarrelling, violation of contracts, and the whole catalogue of crimen falsi. . . ."

He had not been given a formal education, his parents preferring to see him trained in the school of hard work and hard knocks. At the age of twelve he was serving as a clerk in the district court; at seventeen he was editing a newspaper. He had prepared himself for the law by reading Blackstone Commentaries, with an uncle.

He settled first at DeKalb, Mississippi, three years later moved on to Gainesville, Alabama, and for a total of eighteen years was a familiar figure as lawyer and politician of the Old South West. Twenty-one when he arrived, a little over average in height, well built, rugged, he adapted himself readily to the rough language and rough ways of the backwoods. It was a place requiring strong excitement. He enjoyed thoroughly the brawling and practical joking, the tall tales and extravagant oratory. He was a man of sharp mind, with a keen sense of observation and an ear for the apt phrase, the pithy remark. Furthermore, his Virginia background and wide reading gave him perspective on the wild life he had thrust himself into.

As he rode the trails of East Riding and other circuits, he had the habit of writing down his impressions of unusual men and scenes he observed in court rooms, offices, and tav-

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